Desert Of Zin

The occasional blog of Alistair Bain – Writer, Husband, Father and Chief Techno-Arcanologist at the Institute of Giant Robots, Spaceships and Wizards. None of these positions pay well.

Monday mornings are better with Brazil

For the last 2 hours I’ve had the earworm that is the theme from Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.

I’ve been tootling along, having a wee dance, much to the amusement of my colleagues. 

And now I inflict it on you. 

October 17, 2016 at 10:21 am | Listening, Watching | Tags: , | No comment

The Eternal Champion : Lemmy

I was going to harp on about getting a new hi-fi. Ruth picked it up yesterday after a weekend of careful deliberation. It’s a Sandstrom something or other. I checked it when I got in and both Yes and Frost* have never sounded so good.

This is my first proper hi-fi since I was a teenager. Back then I had this big cheap – looking plastic brick. Can’t remember the make. But it was wonderful for a boy exploring music for the first time. From rock to metal on vinyl, cd and tape my music collection grew quickly week by week.

And one of the bands I grew to love was Motörhead.

Overkill, Bomber, Orgasmatron, 1916, March ör Die, Bastards, Sacrifice, Overnight Sensation, Nö Sleep At All and the ’92 Tour EP. All enjoyed. Very much indeed.

Lemmy was one of those guys who I used to think was going to live forever. I don’t know why. He just had an eternal vibe about him. I always thought at the end of time it would just be him and God having a last drink.

So tonight, I’m going to have a beer and listen to Motörhead the only way that works. Loud.

December 29, 2015 at 1:02 pm | Listening | Tags: , | No comment

Night and other Lost Themes

I’m a big John Carpenter fan. You know, John Carpenter. Halloween, The Thing, Big Trouble In Little China, Escape From New York, They Live, Prince Of Darkness, In The Mouth Of Madness.

You know. John Carpenter.

Well, I was in Fopp in Union Street today for a bit of a browse and I saw an album called Lost Themes by the very same John Carpenter. Although I was tempted to invest a few quid on what was obviously a masterpiece, I thought I’d at least check the interwebs first.

Here’s the music video for Night from the Lost Themes album.

This is exactly the kind of electronic madness I can get behind.

September 10, 2015 at 4:42 pm | Listening, Watching | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No comment

So, happy new year! (a quick tour of 2009)

So, happy new year!

It’s been a ‘interesting’ year, full of ups and downs.

It started well, with me riding high off the relative success of last year’s NaNoWriMo.  It was an important milestone with my writing, the first time I ever got around to actually finishing something in a short time that I even remotely liked.  So, that was Planet Of Snakes (a sequel to the unfinished Desert Of Zin) and very happy I was with it too.

(Not that it matters what’s finished and what’s not, things have changed in that quarter.  More on that in a mo.)

Then, shortly after the new year, my mother had a cancer scare.  Not good, not good at all.  But she had it removed, went for her radiotherapy and everything is currently peachy keen.  (It’s amazing how you can get all of the angst, worry and relief of a time like that and boil it down to a couple of sentences…)

Then a few months into the year amazing news arrives.  Ruth is pregnant!  I still remember how excited I was when I found out.  We had been trying for a while and finding out really was a gift.

Then we hit the summer.  And intimidation and bullying at work.  Not good seeing as I worked for the my church.  With the benefit of hindsight, and plenty of counselling, there is definitely an element of a culture of dishonour about the way some Christians act despite the ‘Culture of Honour’ that is advertised.

Anyway, it wasn’t a sudden thing.  Using the same old hindsight as before it’s clear that my self-esteem and confidence were being ground down over a long period of time.  More on that later as well.

There was a welcome break in there called Summer’s End, a progressive rock festival in the small town of Lidney, by the Forest of Dean.  Myself, The Psycho Chicken, Bruce and (when she felt like she could endure all that glorious prog) Sharla enjoyed Steve Hackett, Pallas, Pendragon and all the wonderful bands in between.

But then back to work where the situation continued to get from bad to worse…

The months of September, October and November were back to the growing depression, anxiety, stress and suicidal tendencies.  This really was the worst part of the year for me.  I was being intimidated and harrased by my line manager (who, unfortunately, was also my minister) and despite already letting people in authority know the situation he was still my line manager and still intimidating and harassing me.

Now, I understand that in the cold light of day it might not seem like much, but when your church is your work and the only feedback you get from your minister/line manager is negative and your interests and thoughts are open to ridicule, it tends to affect you poorly.

NaNoWriMo arrived in November, right at the height of how bad things were getting.  With panic attacks and ‘The Fear’ growing almost daily it was a miracle in itself that I was able to get over 24k words.

This was the ‘All-New’ Desert Of Zin story.  I felt like the existing one was going nowhere.  I had no plan or interest in keeping it going and any ideas I did have just seemed tired.  But then I thought that it might be an idea to take the core concepts I still had in mind for the story and just start afresh.  Different setting, different characters (although with the same names) and with a narrow scope, at least initially, than the original attempt.  And for the most part I’m a lot happier with it so far.  Lots of stories to tell though, which is good.  Stops me from getting too bogged down with any one story.

But it wasn’t finished in the month, so there we go.  I’ll try again with something new next year.

It was the second-last weekend in November when everything hit the fan.  Angry threats were made at work and that was the straw that broke back of it and I handed in my notice.  Better that I was unemployed and healthy than employed and suicidal.

And I haven’t really regretted it once.  It’s a no-brainer that I have not been back to Whiteinch Church of Scotland for the Sunday Celebration and I don’t think I ever will.  I do wish them well for the future but if they ever want to see this ‘Culture of Honour’ fully realised they’ll have to really look at sorting themselves out.  One thing that going though my own counselling process has shown me is that there are a good few of Whiteinch Church leadership who need counselling of their own.

But with a month of the year left, two wonderful things happened.

A story, Whiteinch In Flight, was accepted for a local anthology…

…And my daughter was born, late for Christmas, but in plenty of time for the new year.

I have big plans for 2010.  It really feels like I’ve been through a lot this year and I’m confident and a feeling a lot more prepared for what I’m planning for the year ahead.

There are books to write, a wife to keep happy and a daughter to raise.  No problem.

January 2, 2010 at 8:18 am | General, Listening, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No comment

Crack The Skye – Mastodon

Mastodon was recommended to me by Ruthy and, after constantly calling them Megalodon by accident, I found Crack The Skye in Fopp on Union Street for the sum of one crisp ten pound note.  After bringing it back to the Oasis Of Zin, or the study, I have to say that I’m particularly taken by it.

It’s progressive metal, have no doubt about that, but compared with other Prog Metal like Dream Theater (they being the only Prog Metal band I’ve really spent any time listening to) they have a definite 80’s metal leaning.

Certainly Crack The Skye is heavier than anything I’ve listened to in a while and it’s a welcome break to the easy world of symphonic prog that usually gets played loud around these parts.

The album is concept album territory, enough to deter all but the hardiest of music lovers, but it’s not so obvious to the unlearned.  If you like your music loud AND inventive, you’d do a lot worse than give this a try.

DoZ Rating (your handy guide to anything and everything) : 10 out of 10

April 22, 2009 at 2:03 pm | Listening | Tags: , , | No comment

I Am Legend on BBC Radio 7

For the next few days you can hear the first episode of I Am Legend by Richard Matheson on BBC Radio 7.  So far they’re up to episode four.

Go there and listen to the story that the film should have been.

A story much more sophisticated than the film ever was…

July 10, 2008 at 6:33 pm | Listening | Tags: , | No comment

Spock’s Beard and Frost – Live at The Arches (6th July 2008)

Wow.  Last night was a whole bag of Prog-related madness.

First of we had Frost*.

They don’t do anything you haven’t heard in prog before.  But.  They do it very well.

I hadn’t heard them much before last night, just a few tracks played at Neil’s the night before, and they played a blinder.  I advise everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, to give them a try.  Tracks are available on their myspace page and there’s some tomfoolery on youtube.

And then came Spock’s Beard.  And they rocked the place down.

My gig experience is very much like this: rarely is the support band any good, and if they are then the main band often aren’t.  That’s not a general rule,  but it’s the way I’ve experienced it.

This was different.  The Beard rocked.  They played a lot of recent songs that I wasn’t to up on but they did a fantastic job.

So, there you go.

July 7, 2008 at 9:21 am | Listening | Tags: , , | No comment

Senser – Live at Barfly (31st May 2008)


Saturday night saw myself, Edgy and Skiv attending Barfly, easily the crappiest venue in Glasgow, to watch the Rapcore wonders called Senser.


To put this in perspective, Edgy and I were into Senser back in ‘93/94 on the back of the Eject single and the album Stacked Up.  But I had never seen them live.

So comes the chance when the Edgemeister and I see that they’ve reformed and are playing in Glasgow!

It was a good night, with the band on after a few support acts who were mostly forgettable.

And while they played a fair selection of stuff I didn’t recognise, they DID play Eject, Age of Panic, Switch and No Comply which justified the price of the ticket alone.

Ah, to be easily pleased.

June 5, 2008 at 10:50 pm | Listening | Tags: | No comment

The dawn patrol fraternity…

Incommunicado – Marillion

“I’m a rootin-tootin cowboy, the Peter Pan, the street credibility,

Always taking the point with the dawn patrol fraternity.”

January 11, 2008 at 4:14 pm | Listening | Tags: , | No comment


A cool site I found recently is LibraryThing.

Similar to LastFM where (amongst other things) a plug-in to your favourite media player catalogues what you listen to and makes recommendations based on that, LibraryThing is a place where you catalogue what you’re reading and the site recommends similar works.

That is all.

April 28, 2007 at 10:45 am | Listening, Reading | Tags: , | No comment